Greater Cross Selling Starts With Better Listening

All financial institutions are looking to create new ways to build deeper relationships with their customers. This has led to a renewed emphasis on cross-selling: talking with existing customers about other loan products they both qualify for and would benefit from.  Your customers benefit because the products you offer save them money while expanding your relationship.

During my years working at a credit union, I attended many cross selling training sessions, where I learned to listen for unmet needs when talking to customers. Managers know the difficulties of enticing employees to cross sell to members when cross selling is not a focal point of their busy day. In the past, cross selling means making guesses about customers, and following up with information on a better loan or rate, a day or so later… when the customer’s attention has already been lost.

Lenders now have better tools. Cross selling analytics allow lenders to essentially “listen” more carefully to their customers by working in the background comparing information from borrowers’ applications with their credit report to comprehend what other products may interest the consumer. A customer might approach you for a small personal loan to pay for an unexpected cost. Often the underlying problem is that the customer is having trouble with cash flow. A cross selling tool allows the lender to see that the person has a high-cost car loan that could be refinanced, freeing a substantial amount of money for them to meet their monthly needs and pay down other debts. Or, the cross sell tool can find that they don’t have a home equity line, allowing you to refer them to a specialist.

This changes the conversation between lenders and borrowers. Your employees are not blindly pushing products that the institution wants to sell without regard to your customers’ needs. Instead, they are serving members by pin-pointing their needs. This will not only aid your employees’ efforts in engaging in meaningful conversations, but this will work to build a deeper relationship with the customer or member.

Here’s a scenario: A customer (“Dave”) visits a lender to refinance an auto loan. When an employee (“Hal”) pulls this customer’s credit, the program sends a flag on the screen to Hal that there is an opportunity to provide the customer additional savings by switching Dave to a lower-interest credit card. After Hal and Dave have finished their work on the initial request, Hal pivots to a cross sell:

Hal: “I see you have a credit card through XYZ Bank.”

Dave: “Yeah, I’ve had it about five years.”

Hal:  “Our rates tend to be lower than most banks. How much are you paying?”

Dave: “I think it’s over 16%. Seems like I’m paying close to $100 a month in interest.”

Hal: “Yikes. How about after we are done with your auto refinance, I run some numbers and to see how much we might save you. We have a special deal that will let you transfer your balance to our rewards card, which has rates as low as 8%.”

Dave:  “Hmmm… Let’s check that out. I’m always interested in saving some money.”

The cross sell tool has benefited both the lender and the borrower.

Of course, cross selling doesn’t always happen through a face-to-face conversation. A good program builds on utilizing all lending channels: indirect, direct, and online. Using data collected through applications and credit reports to identify the needs of customers as they arise, enables lenders to reach out through a variety of ways, including telemarketing campaigns, emails, or texts. For example: upon approval of an online application, the customer can be presented with an offer that invites them to compare savings through refinancing their car loan, switching credit cards or another cross sell opportunity. Building on the data already provided, the program can tell the customer how large a loan they would qualify for and estimate their monthly savings.

Advanced loan origination systems provide cross sell tools that select products that are tailor-made for specific customers, making the conversations easier. Cross selling in the dark is difficult. But lenders informed by data can engage more confidently with customers, develop greater trust, and build deeper relationships.

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